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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2009, DELHI
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2009,DELHI
TOMORROW in BUSINESS OF LIFE LIVING
Beyond the debate on the bus rapid transit, or BRT, system in Delhi lies the issue of integrating the different modes of transport
Hotels are matching slim travel budgets with cabins inspired by trains and planes
THE FUTURE IS NOT SO BRIGHT
For all their energy efficiency and longevity, consumers are facing a number of problems with CFLs
t sounds like such a simple thing to do: Buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet. But a lot of people are finding the new compact fluorescent light bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are using them for the first time say they sometimes fail to work or wear out early. Irritation seems to be mounting as more consumers try CFLs and vociferous complaints are posted on the Internet, signs that the bulbs are found lacking. Bulb manufacturers and promoters say the overall quality of today’s compact fluorescents is high. But they also concede that it is difficult to prevent some problem bulbs from slipping through. Experts say the quality problems are being compounded by poor instructions. Using the bulbs incorrectly, such as by screwing lowend bulbs into fixtures where heat is prone to build up, can greatly shorten their lives. Consumers should be able to protect themselves by buying bulbs certified by the government. But experts and some environmental groups complain that standards are weak, permitting low-quality bulbs with too high a level of mercury, a toxic metal contained in all compact fluorescents. “The standard essentially establishes a floor which sorts out the junk, with the expectation that the rest is good,” says Michael Siminovitch, director of a lighting centre at the University of California, Davis. “It’s not.” The government, which will begin enforcing tighter specifications this year, says it must seek a balance between quality and affordability to achieve its goal of getting millions of additional consumers to install the bulbs. The truth is, light bulbs are getting a lot more complicated. In a guide they wrote, lighting experts at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, declared that compact fluorescent bulbs require “a little insight and planning”. That may be an understatement. While research suggests that compact fluorescent technology has improved over the last decade, the bulbs do not replicate the performance of incandescents, the light bulbs to which most consumers are accustomed. Below are some highlights from various guides on using compact fluorescent bulbs, including tips prepared by Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center, the US government’s Energy Star programme, and experts from the magazine Consumer Reports: • Look for bulbs with labels which indicates they have passed at least minimal performance requirements. • Be aware that compact fluorescents can take 1-3 minutes to reach full brightness. This is not a defect. • The place where people are most likely to use compact fluorescents, closets, may be a poor choice. Experts warn that turning the bulbs on and off frequently shortens their lives, and recommend using them in fixtures that are used at least 15 minutes at a time or several hours a day. • The bulbs do not do well in hot environments with little airflow, such as recessed ceiling fixtures. They are ideal for use in table lamps. For recessed fixtures, specialized heatresistant compact fluorescents are available. • Not all compact fluorescents work with dimmers or in three-way sockets. Be certain to check the label. • Learning about “colour temperature”, which is printed on the label of high-quality bulbs, can help consumers avoid disappointment with the colour of the light. The warmest-looking bulbs generally have a colour temperature of less than 3,000 Kelvin, while the harshest bulbs are usually above 5,000 Kelvin. • Compact fluorescents contain mercury and should not be disposed of in the trash. • If you break a bulb, take precautions to avoid mercury exposure: Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes, if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything—glass, clothes and cardboard—into a plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash.
LEORA BROYDO VESTEL AND TOM ZELLER JR ©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
SHOULD YOU SWITCH TO LEDs?
Chic, energy-efficient and high-tech LED-based bulbs and lighting are gaining popularity. Expect the transition to gain momentum in the next few months in India. By NIYAM BHUSHAN
ven in the 21st century, the 19th century’s light bulb has yet to touch the lives of several million people in some villages in India. In European Union (EU) countries, however, this ordinary light bulb will progressively be banned from retail shelves from September. A new EU directive aims to cut the CO2 emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect and focus more on energy-conscious living by banning the incandescent light bulb.
son is with the incandescent light bulb. You can well imagine how dramatically energy-efficient LED lighting must be—and the direct savings in your electricity bill month after month.
broken mercury thermometer at home. Fortunately, LEDs are much more environment-friendly and easier to dispose of.
A high price tag
For all its goodness, local Indian retail has hardly stocked up on LEDs so far. Attribute this to the rather steep price. Some bulbs can cost between Rs500-4,000 each. You might find cheap and unbranded Chinese imports selling from a starting point of Rs90. I bought one but found its quality rather disappointing and its light a dim bluish glow. Some upmarket home stores located in snazzy malls do sell a scant few models of LED bulbs from popular home-lighting brands, but expect each unit to sell from Rs350-425 and beyond. The online shopping world, in contrast, is abuzz with the excitement and abundant variety of LED bulbs. However, be careful while ordering online—most bulbs ship for 120V, while India is standardized on 220V.
Light and easy style
Expect the impact of LEDs on lifestyle and culture to be a lot more dramatic. First, LED home lighting comes in an immense variety of shapes and sizes, and has enough variety to fit into any standard of bulb-holder or socket—from bayonet or screw-in bulb-holders to halogen-fit sockets and beyond. Second, it emanates a cooler and softer glow that is aesthetically pleasing. Some of the most exotic models can be tuned to change their colours and tones at the touch of a button. Imagine being able to change the mood and ambience of a room at your whim. Last week, I picked a specific LED bulb that looked like an ordinary light bulb and hurled it to the floor, much to the shock of passers-by. They were even more startled to see it just bounce around without breaking—and when I picked it up and reinserted it into a bulb-holder, it seemed to glow with amusement.
Cut your monthly bill
For example, an incandescent light bulb with a 60-watt rating can be replaced with a CFL of 13-15 watts, reducing your bill to one-fourth the original amount. Yet an LED of just 6-8 watts will give you the same amount of light and reduce your bill to one-tenth. Keep these figures in mind as India, with its significantly larger population, moves into yet another summer with power demand exceeding supply.
Surprisingly though it may seem, the compact fluorescent light, or CFL, increasingly used in homes and buildings across Indian cities and towns is not the answer either. Indeed, expect the swish and the techno-chic to unscrew those sometimes awkward-looking CFLs and replace them with the latest in lighting: light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. Here’s why. LED lighting gives you significantly more light for every watt of electricity than CFLs. In turn, that’s what is said about CFLs when the compari-
The average light bulb has a lifespan of around 1,000-1,200 hours. A CFL may have a lifespan of about 2,500-8,000 hours but an LED lamp shines on for around 30,000-50,000 hours. CFLs actually contain mercury, which is highly toxic both for your health and the environment. Disposing of a CFL requires the same caution as a
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SYLVANIA LED COLOR-CHANGING NIGHT LIGHT
Unlike most night lights that need to be plugged into a wall socket, this large spherical ball of light runs on button-cell batteries and switches on with a mere press of the ball. It can display up to eight static colours or automatically transition between them. Price: $6.99 From: online at smarthome.com. Also check local stores.
PHILIPS IMAGEO LED RECHARGEABLE CANDLE LIGHTS
It mimics the look of a candle in a glass, and you may be forgiven for mistaking it for the real thing. A base station charges a set of four for up to 20 hours of use. Just shake the glass to switch them on and use them both indoors and outdoors to recreate the ambience of candlelight without the risk of fire or hot wax. Price: £29.99, with an estimated street price of £19.55. You may also spot them at upmarket Indian retail outlets for about Rs3,500. From: Amazon.co.uk, but also check Indian outlets.
PHAROX 40 WATT LED LIGHT BULB REPLACEMENT
This bulb is 90% more efficient than a traditional one and produces a claimed 230 lumens of light. It operates with universal power supply from 120V to 230V. Price: $32.95 From: online at www.eaglelight.com
C CRANE GEOBULB
At 7.5 watts, this direct replacement bulb gives as much light as an ordinary 60-watt bulb and comes in three colours. Price: $119.95 From: online shopping at www.ccrane.com
Four types of LEDs within this distinctive-looking lamp offer you a rich palette of 16.8 million colours in which to bathe your room interiors. A sleek remote control allows you to dynamically change colour and saturation to capture the mood you want. Price: £119.99, with an estimated street price of £79.00 From: Amazon.co.uk
If you break a CFL, take precautions to avoid mercury exposure. Open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible and avoid vacuuming
SwitchEasy, a manufacturer of iPod accessories, has released the ThumbTack ($13), a mini microphone for the iPod Nano 4G or Touch 2G that is shaped like a tack. It plugs into the iPod’s headphone jack and immediately brings up a voice-recording application that is built into every iPod. The system can record audio at MP3 quality directly to the free space on the iPod. It comes in black, red and white and also works with thirdparty audio-recording applications available on the iTunes App Store.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Onkyo has released an entry-level home theatre, the HT-S3200 ($380). The 660-watt package comes with a 5.1-channel AV receiver with 110 watts per channel, three HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) inputs, DTS and Dolby Digital surround processing and five loudspeakers. It also has four digital signal processing sound modes that adjust the system’s settings for rock, sports, action and role playing (as in computer games). The Onkyo HT-S3200 is now available for the recessionfriendly price of $380. ©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Want to clean up your printed copies of Web pages and remove the extra lines such as page number and Web address? In most browsers, you can turn off the space-hogging information in the Page Setup or Print box. Look for the settings for Headers and Footers. Instructions for many browsers are at snipurl.com/doww3 and tips for customizing header and footer information in Internet Explorer 7 at www.uwec.edu/ help/IE_7/headfoot.htm
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Adding an iPod jack to your car’s system may take some time, money and effort, but the wired connection usually sounds consistently better than an inexpensive add-on such as an FM transmitter. A number of iPod kits are available for car stereo systems. One place to see what’s out there is Apple’s own page at apple.com/ipod/carintegration. The page has links to manufacturers with iPod connections in their current models, as well as a lengthy list of after-market solutions. Your options vary depending on your car equipment.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
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